New Challenge of Roundup Ready

Lawsuit filed to keep GMO sugar beets from being planted.

Published on: Jan 23, 2008

The Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of a group of organizations to stop the deregulation of glyphosate-resistant sugar beets by the United States Department of Agriculture. The deregulation would allow the beets to be grown commercially and distributed throughout the U.S. for the first time.

According to the Center for Food Safety, Organic Food Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club the deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets will contribute to the development of glyphosate-resistant weeds. They also claim that pollen from the GMO sugar beets will contaminate conventional beets and other related crops.

Monsanto says it is confident in the safety and effectiveness of the Roundup Ready system and in the ability of the company, their licensees and their growers to responsibly steward the technology. The company is reviewing the case and will determine if any course of action needs to be taken.

The lawsuit charges that by deregulation, the USDA is violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the Plant Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Federal Court is being asked to stop the deregulation, have the USDA prepare an environmental impact statement for any future deregulation, and stop any planting of glyphosate-resistant sugar beets pending USDA's compliance.

According to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokesperson Karen Eggert, the deregulation of glyphosate-resistant sugar beets occurred in March of 2005 following an environmental impact study that showed no significant effects.

"We are committed to protecting the environment and take it very seriously," Eggert says. "We are reviewing the lawsuit at this time, but it is USDA's policy to not comment on pending legislation."